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Pastoral Reflection: The Icon Project

The entire Holy Trinity community extends a warm welcome to all our visitors who have traveled to celebrate our parish’s joy this morning, and also and expressing great gratitude to those from our own community, and to our donors, without whose financial support, this day would not be possible. A heart-felt thanks. May God repay.

The entire Holy Trinity community extends a warm welcome to all our visitors who have traveled to celebrate our parish’s joy this morning, and also and expressing great gratitude to those from our own community, and to our donors, without whose financial support, this day would not be possible. A heart-felt thanks. May God repay.

Today marks the third consecutive year many of you are with us for a milestone celebration in our church. In 2016, Holy Trinity celebrated its 100th Anniversary, and last year (2017) His Eminence, Archbishop Nikon, consecrated a new altar table built by one of our own parishioners (Jon Matcheson). Why, we ask, has Holy Trinity been the recipient of such recent blessings? The short answer is God; the longer is God’s unending grace. Our own +Helen Sadow who reposed in the Lord on May 10, 2018, wondered allowed a few years before her death, when she asked, “Why is God so good to us?” she asked in amazement. “We’re such a small church, and we have had difficult times in the past, yet whenever it looked like things were really bleak, and we wondered if we would be forced to close, God would send us someone, and somehow we survived. It is only through God’s love for us that we have made it to our Centennial, and have always been the recipient of his great love. There really is no other explanation.”

“We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him … ” (Romans 8:28).

Although we will no doubt continue to add to the temple’s beauty, incrementally it should be added; for the most part, the heavy lifting has been done. The interior of the nave looks vastly different than it did 15 years ago. Many of our parishioners feel strongly that we have the most beautiful OCA church in New England. Who am I to argue?

What we gather for here today is the blessing of ten new icons; that there are six female saints and four early church fathers, was done purposely. The role of women in the early church was less recognized than that from men. +Father John Meyendorff (d. 7.22.1992) told our Patristics Class in 1981 that the church calendar consisted, he suggested, of 95% men, and just 5% females. He added, and wondered aloud, if those numbers should not have been the other way around? On a personal note, I have been driven to learn more about the contributions that women have made to the early church, and still do now, for the past 37 years, or since +Father Meyendorff set the record straight for me. Even more recent saints in the west have grabbed my attention. Feeding that hunger, I discovered our friends in the Roman Catholic Church have designated, since 1970, three women to be “Doctors of the Church” (Western terminology): Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint Therese of Lisieux (+Father Thomas Hopko’s favorite), and Saint Catherine of Siena, named co-patron of Italy in 1939, along with Saint Francis of Assisi, who never learned how to read or write, died at age 33, and whose body is buried under the altar at Santa Maria Minerva Church in Rome, a church I visited on several occasions during my recent pilgrimage to Italy. These doctors of the West have shown me that sanctification (theosis) surrounds us, both in the east and west; it is everywhere, and easy to discern, if we have eyes to see, and ears to hear.

You will read about our iconographer, Cveta Marinova, in the Commemorative Booklet produced for today’s blessing of icons. From November, 2016, through September, 2018, Cveta and I have shared over 200 emails. She was an absolute joy to work with, and could not possibly been more respectful. She added how difficult it was for her to let go of our icons prior to overseas shipment, and she is rejoicing with us this morning. The Saints which were chosen for Holy Trinity, are, like the Church Fathers, from the early church, beginning with Saint Mary of Magdela (1st c.) extending to Saint Barbara of Damascus (4th c.). Today’s Commemorative Book contains one-page biographies on each saint. I also want to make special note of Mr Bill Bender, a local business man from Willimantic, who hung all ten icons. After completing the final six installations, he expressed humble gratitude for us calling upon him to do this important work. In an email written on September 28, 2018, Mr Bender noted the trust that was placed in him was not taken lightly, and how even during the installation, the icons inspired him to offer his own prayer to God. We should all do likewise.

– Fr. Marc V.

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